Neeraj Chopra looked ready to cross the 90m mark on Saturday. But now he will be happy to make a recovery from the Cuortaine Games.
The Olympic champion survived a dangerously dangerous fall, traversed a slippery runway and tackled wet conditions to register his first win of the season, topping an eight-man field in Kuorten, Finland, on Saturday.
A win in his second event since the Tokyo Games would give more confirmation to Chopra that his return was going according to plan, especially given the difficult conditions he had to navigate. The 24-year-old managed just one legal throw, covering a distance of 86.69 meters in his first attempt. However, it turned out to be enough.
Gold for Neeraj!
He’s done it again, what an incredible champion!
• Best throw of 86.69m in his first attempt #cuortengames2022 @neeraj_chopra1 Takes the top spot and wins his first of the season
— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) 18 June 2022
Trinidad’s Keshorn Walcott came closest with an effort of 86.64, raising hopes of a thrilling duel, but it was only an opening clash. It was followed by defending world champion Anderson Peters, who has a season-best of 93.06m, who is not far behind with his opening throw of 84.75m. Chopra was the last of the trio to walk the runway, but hopes of a faster competition were dashed after their 86.69m opener, as javelin throwers avoided going out due to conditions following incessant rain for the event.
The situation seemed difficult for the athletes even before the start of the competition, puddles formed around the track, hampering the run-up. Home favorite Oliver Hellender, who won the Pavo Nurmi Games the week before Chopra, decided to pull out of the event at the last minute.
The score fell collectively in the subsequent rounds for all throwers, with Chopra foiling his second and third attempts. In fact, he suffered a bad slip on the runway after dropping the spear during his third throw. In the follow-through, Chopra slipped, lost his balance and fell sideways to his left.
Unwilling to take further risks, Chopra decided against further competition. He passed his fourth throw, packed his shoes and returned to the bench. He didn’t even attempt the fifth and sixth throws. The same was true for Walcott and Peters, who finished second and third respectively.
The Athletics Federation of India said in a tweet that Chopra was fine after the fall and there is nothing to worry about.
After playing twice in Finland within a week, Chopra will now travel to Stockholm on June 30 to take part in the Diamond League. It is likely to be his last tournament before the World Championships in the US next month.
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Another Indian, Sandeep Chowdhary, finished last in the competition with a best throw of 60.35m.